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Goodbye, Max

He didn’t need to talk to convey his message. His sweet brown eyes always twinkled and his floppy ears perked up when he wanted our attention, which had far more impact than the yapping his little mate did to distract us away. The last time his big beautiful eyes were open, they said thank you family, it’s been a good life, I’ll miss you.

Losing Max wasn’t just a blip in our daily lives, it marked the passing of a beloved member of our family. Unlike all of his human friends, Max never complained, never demanded attention, and most importantly, never let us down. He was consistent, loyal and true, and a joy to share our home with, his home.

Max is the dog who helped raise our three girls, who taught them unconditional love, and stood close to them when the walls of high school drama started to close in on them. He didn’t have to be told the girls were having a bad day, he sensed it, and he always cuddled a little closer to them when they needed him most. His natural empathy was always the most reliable remedy for our periodic doses of teenage angst.

And, of course, mom and dad loved him just as much, and maybe needed him even more, especially once our daughters started moving out of the house. One by one, as they went off to college, they left two long faces behind, but the emptiness created always had a remedy—big Max. He knew the lonely parents needed more from their companion when the girls drove away, and he filled that vacant space in a way that only he could.

When Max started having health problems last year, he managed them in his characteristic stoic style, never giving any indication he was hurting other than when he finally stopped eating. The cancer that destroyed his appetite and ravaged his internal organs might have made him into a listless burden, but not our Max. He never showed any sign of distress or discomfort, and continued greeting us with his same excited face and wag of his tail. Even as we cried over him as the vet helped us ease his pain, he didn’t complain. Somehow, our big guy knew it was his time.

How do you compensate for the loss of a devoted pet like Max? In truth, it’s not possible. We’ve found no answer for the unusually deep pain that has come with the loss of our best friend. Time will undoubtedly help fill the void created by his passing, but the most important lesson is to appreciate what our big fellow represented in our lives. He was special, one of a kind, and helped build the family we became, and still want to be. And he did it without ever saying a word.

So goodbye, Max. We’ll miss you old boy, probably more than you realized while you patrolled our small corner of the world. But we’re comforted knowing that you’re sprinting in a meadow chasing butterflies now, free of the pain that took you down, and I’m sure wagging your tail as you wait for all of your furry friends to join you beyond the rainbow bridge.

We love you, big guy.

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